Sichuan Flower Pepper (Special-Grade Da Hong Pao Sichuan Pepper, 大红袍花椒)
The Sichuanese do not call Sichuan pepper "Sichuan pepper." They call it hua jiao, which means flower pepper, and when you see a perfect specimen of the numbing spice you understand why. While most varieties of Sichuan pepper and its cousins grown throughout Asia split open when dried into a small Pac-Man shape with two sides, the Sichuan pepper grown and/or preferred in Sichuan opens into three heart-shaped sections for the appearance of a six-petaled flower.
Not only are these "flowering" Sichuan pepper pods more likely to dislodge their gritty black seeds, they are significantly larger, more fragrant and more potent. This da hong pao variety, which means big red robe, is, as the name suggests, particularly red and large. And this special grade of da hong pao has been hand-sorted to include a high percentage of six- and four-petal flowers.
These have almost no seeds, twigs and thorns, which, if you've ever tried sorting Sichuan pepper, you know is quite at feat. That is because they are machine-sorted once and then hand-sorted twice, as only the top grades are. (See the photo above of a lowest-grade supermarket Sichuan pepper for comparison.) Like our other varieties, it has not undergone the once-required heat-treatment process that for so long robbed Sichuan pepper of some of its punch.
Use these when you want to wow both the tastebuds and the eyes.
To learn more about the history of Sichuan pepper in the U.S. and current sourcing in China, read this article we reported for Roads & Kingdoms and Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown.
Source: Grown in Wudu, Gansu Province
Size: 2 ounces (57 grams); 1 cup by volume
Ingredients: Single-origin Sichuan pepper. No additives or preservatives. Non-irradiated and non heat-treated